“What’s the difference between castor sugar and white sugar?”
I consulted locals in the supermarket and solicited advice from the hostel manager. Although I had not tasted, let alone seen a Pavlova, I felt that the Kiwi-as meringue-like dessert was in capable hands.
“The secret is to beat it for fifteen minutes.”
Soon after I laid out my ingredients I whipped them into a stiff foamy batter and dropped it on a baking sheet. It looked like a bubble bath cloud until I sculpted and smoothed the sides with a spoon. After only twenty minutes my Pavlova was ready for the oven.
Two hours after it went in I was persuaded to peek at my creation. I could see nothing through the opaque oven window so I lowered the door. Initially the oven appeared empty until my eyes adjusted and I discovered that my cake was merely being camouflaged. My foamy construction had collapsed into a bleak charcoal black ruin.
Due to a misreading of my own handwriting, I had set the temperature thirty degrees too high. Although my first ever Pavlova was dismal, I gave the recipe another go. The second was less burnt but just as flat and the third faithfully followed suit.
It was midnight and I was nowhere close to a golden crispy shell and marshmallow-y soft interior. At work my boss assured me that my failure stemmed from my nationality. In his eyes a good Pavlova automatically grants New Zealand citizenship. Sure I can make Hokey Pokey and kiwifruit jam like the best of them, but I just don’t think I am ready yet to take that kind of immigration test.
How to (maybe) make Pavlova:
(From the complete Edmonds Sure to Rise Recipe Book)
- 3 egg whites
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1 Tsp vinegar
- 1 Tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tsp corn flour
- Preheat oven to 150˚C or 300˚F
- Beat egg whites till stiff, add cold water and beat again.
- Add castor sugar very gradually while still beating (should beat for a total of 15 min).
- Slow beater to add vinegar, vanilla, and corn flour.
- Place on baking paper and bake for 45 minutes. Leave it in the oven to cool, do not open the oven!